DVD Review: Lilo & Stitch 2-Disc Big Wave Edition
Release Date: March 24, 2009
Distributor: Walt Disney Home Video
· Dean DeBlois
· Chris Sanders
· Tia Carrere
· Jason Scott Lee
· David Ogden Stiers
· IMDb: Lilo & Stitch
by Raul Burriel
Published: March 31, 2009
When "Lilo & Stitch" first came out on DVD a few years ago, to say I was disappointed with the single-disc release would be an understatement. Until "Lilo & Stitch", Disney had been releasing two versions - a deluxe and a standard version - of their films (including "Dinosaur", "Tarzan" and "Atlantis"). But while a deluxe version of "Lilo & Stitch" was originally planned, it was abruptly canceled when Disney decided to no longer release two versions of their movies on DVD. It was an especially bitter pill to swallow because of how much I enjoyed "Lilo & Stitch", especially compared to some of the earlier - less deserving - releases which did earn a 2-disc release. And it was particularly irksome to learn that some of the bonus features originally slated for the canceled 2-disc release made it onto discs in foreign regions. Well, that's in the past now. Here, finally, is the 2-disc set we all deserve.
In a nutshell, "Lilo & Stitch" is the story of a little orphaned Hawaiian girl and her pet dog who turns out to be an evil fugitive alien experiment. Sure, we've all heard this story before... or maybe we haven't. It's certainly an original story, with a beautiful setting, providing a gold mine of material which spawned three feature-length sequels and a TV series.
A great deal of the film's charm comes from the soundtrack. It's a mix of Elvis songs and traditional Hawaiian music composed by uber-movie composer Alan Silvestri.
The bonus features - which I'd been clamoring for - come on two discs. The first disc includes an audio commentary by producer Clark Spender and writer-directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois. It covers all the bases required in any commentary about an animated movie (going on location to help the animators get a feel for the sites and sounds of the setting, meeting the voice cast, etc.) but also explores the touchy subject of how the 9/11 terrorist attacks dramatically affected the production (more on that later). Both "A Stitch in Time" and "Inter-Stitch-ials" show how Disney is integrating the Stitch character into its pantheon of characters (you don't see them doing that with the characters from "Atlantis"). There's also a hula lesson and a brief vignette on how to animate the hula, an obligatory DVD game, a featurette on Hawaii, a music video of the A-Teens covering Elvis's "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You", and a behind the scenes look at the making of Wynonna's recording of "Burning Love". And that's just the first disc.
The second disc is a 2-hour documentary on all phases of the making of "Lilo & Stitch", from concept to premiere. At 2 hours, it's staggering in its depth and detail. The "Documentary Footnotes" section is a collection of content which didn't make it into the documentary. Finally, we get the deleted scenes. As with most animated DVDs which feature deleted scenes, these are largely presented in animatic style. The only fully realized deleted scene (or nearly so) is the alternate climactic chase sequence which was cut late in the production. The chase sequence - which mirrors closely what did finally make it onto the screen - features Stitch and the gang hijacking a 747 and using that - rather than a space craft - to chase down the bad guys. The hijacked plane is flown low to the ground and through a city. It doesn't take long to realize - as you see the plane twist and turn between highrises - why the scene was cut shortly after 9/11. It's practically cringe-worthy. Kudos to Disney for not trying to erase this bit of cinematic history from our collective consciousness.
There have been times when a lot of work has been put into producing a multi-disc special edition DVD collection and the movie just isn't deserving of that effort. I understand why Disney might have thought that they were working too hard to make special editions of every movie they put out and maybe it was time to ease back on the throttle, but "Lilo & Stitch" was magic enough to have deserved the special treatment from the get-go. I'm glad to finally see this become a reality.